Lindsay Barrett George (1952-) Biography
Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1952, in Dominican Republic; Education: Attended Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, 1972-73; Manhattanville College, B.F.A., 1974; University of Wisconsin, M.A., 1976, M.F.A., 1977. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Canoeing, hiking, travel.
Fine art printer in Englewood, NJ, and New York, NY, 1978-81; mechanical artist for publisher's children's department, New York, NY, 1981-84; children's book author and illustrator, 1985—. Lecturer and artist-inresidence at elementary schools, beginning 1989.
Caroline Field Award, 1990; NSTA/Children's Book Council Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children designations, for Beaver at Long Pond, Box Turtle at Long Pond, and Fishing at Long Pond; Box Turtle at Long Pond selected a Library of Congress Children's Book of the Year; American Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists, 1991, for Fishing at Long Pond.
FOR CHILDREN; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
William and Boomer, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1987.
(Coauthor with husband, William T. George) Beaver at Long Pond, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1988.
In the Snow: Who's Been Here?, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1995.
In the Woods: Who's Been Here?, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Around the Pond: Who's Been Here?, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Around the World: Who's Been Here?, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1999.
My Bunny and Me, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Secret, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Several of George's books have been published in French.
William T. George, Box Turtle at Long Pond, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1989.
William T. George, Fishing at Long Pond, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1991.
William T. George, Christmas at Long Pond, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Charlotte Huck, compiler, Secret Places (poetry collection), Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Lola M. Schaefer, Pick, Pull, Snap! Where Once a Flower Bloomed, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Lindsay Barrett George is an artist and children's book author who creates books set in countryside landscapes. Inspired by the work of naturalist painter James Audubon, fifteenth-century engraver Albrecht Dürer, and Wisconsin painter John Wilde, her gouache paintings are notable for their realism and controlled composition. In her review of George's illustrations for Lola M. Schaefer's 2003 picture book Pick, Pull, Snap!, Gillian Engberg in Booklist praised George's "inviting, realistic color art," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor cited the "detailed, scientific-quality drawings" as "perfect for budding greenthumbs." In a discussion of Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse, a Publishers Weekly reviewer maintained that author/illustrator "George couples her eye for particulars … with brilliant colors and a masterful sense of light."
Born in the Dominican Republic, George first began to paint as a young girl when her grandfather presented her with a gift of paints and brushes. Speaking only Spanish when her parents brought her to the United States when she was eight years old, George learned to make friends by drawing pictures of her former West Indies home. As George recalled on the HarperCollins Web site, "As a child, all I knew was that I wanted to draw, that I needed to make marks on paper. And if paper was not available, any blank surface would do, especially the brown paper bags from the grocery store. Pastel pencil marks looked especially beautiful on that soft, brown background."
After attending college in the Midwest and majoring in fine arts, George moved to New York City, where she found a job with a publisher working as a mechanical artist in the children's book division. "In all of my free time, I was in my studio making little handmade books, telling stories with only pictures and no words," she added in her essay on the HarperCollins Web site. Despite her illustrator tendencies, George did not think seriously about creating children's books herself, however, until after she was married, living in a log cabin in Pennsylvania, and raising a family. Enjoying the out-of-doors, George spent a great deal of time sketching the plants and animals she discovered in the woods near her new home. The idea then came to her to share these drawings and describe the sights and sounds of nature in picture books for children.
George's first book, William and Boomer, is a quiet tale about a boy who raises a gosling that has been separated from its parents. The boy, William, wants to learn how to swim; when he finally masters the water, he and his pet can enjoy swims together. While a Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books critic felt the tale is lacking in excitement, the reviewer praised George for her "simple and effective" illustrations.
For her next project, George began work on the "Long Pond" series. She coauthored the first of these, Beaver at Long Pond, with her husband; the three other books in the series are written by William T. George and feature Lindsay Barrett George's illustrations. The main purpose of these books is to introduce children to the native plants and animals typically found in parts of North America. Dialogue, narrative, and illustrations work together to tell about the wonders of nature. As Booklist contributor Deborah Abbott pointed out in a review of Christmas at Long Pond, these books clearly convey an "appreciation of the balance of nature, and respect for the environment."
In Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse, George opens up a world in miniature, as young readers are introduced to a house mouse, who makes her home inside a wind-up clock case, and a tree stump-dwelling field mouse. The simple story follows each mouse as the rodents both wake up and make the journey to a window in the house, where they greet each other every morning. Praising the book for its easy-to-understand text and "pictures packed with interesting details just waiting to be explored," School Library Journal reviewer Wanda Meyers-Hines dubbed Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse useful for "teaching the concept of compare/contrast." Noting that the book possesses a "large format, clear illustrations, and the most appealing mice readers have ever seen," a Kirkus Reviews contributor added that George's picture-book concept is "cleverly engaging."
Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse was inspired by an elementary-school lesson. As George recalled in an essay for the HarperCollins Web site, the book "came out of a personal challenge: to see what I could do with my daughter's third-grade homework assignment—writing about a mouse in one's house. I had always liked mice and had several pictures of them on my studio wall. The concept of an outside mouse meeting an inside mouse was intriguing, and using the graphic idea of two lines meeting in the middle felt right. The fact that it took six years to work it out is still a bit of a shock."
In addition to her other work for children, George has also received considerable recognition for her "Who's Been Here?" books, which include In the Snow: Who's Been Here?, In the Woods: Who's Been Here?, Around the Pond: Who's Been Here?, and Around the World: Who's Been Here? In most of the series she uses the same formula: siblings William and Cammy take a walk through a natural setting and discover evidence of animal activity, such as plants that have had their flowers eaten, molted feathers, or paw prints visible across the trail. Each clue is accompanied by a two-page spread that shows the animal that was there and how it left the clue. In Around the World, the focus shifts due to the book's broader scope, and globetrotting teacher Miss Lewis sends her class letters that incorporate the same wildlife clues. The "Who's Been Here?" books have been praised for the quality and accuracy of their illustrations, as well as for their use of a simple, instructive format which adapts well to teaching nature classes. Joanne Schott, writing in Quill and Quire, asserted that In the Woods, for example, "could be the first step to a deeper interest in natural history" for a young reader. Booklist contributor Lauren Peterson described the series as "superb" and "unique," while in Horn Book Elizabeth S. Watson wrote that the "connection between scientific observation and resulting discoveries is well made" through both illustrations and text.
George once told SATA: "I've always been a serious 'looker' of things. Although my work has been referred to as photographic, I don't draw exactly what I see—I draw things the way that I need them to be, for me. The inclination for some artists is sometimes to go far for inspiration. I tend to look no further than the earth beneath my feet or the tree in front of my nose for subjects that matter.
"To show a child some familiar bark, as if for the first time, [or] to have a child feel as though he/she is holding a chipmunk or a squirrel, that's why I make paintings. And the reason I make books [is that] I love what makes a book 'work'—the turning of pages and of images. I enjoy making pictures that will fill a child with a curiosity about the next page or picture.
"The motivation behind the books that I've written and illustrated was to create a place for children to 'go' and be shown thing about animals that either they would never see or could never see on their own. When I left New York City in 1984, I moved into a log cabin on a lake in Pennsylvania with my husband, Bill. We spent four years in our rustic home, with the animals in the woods as our neighbors. The question was obvious—why not write about this for children? So we did."
Apart from the joy she finds in artistic expression, George views each of her children's books as a mystery to be solved. "Writing the story and designing the book is my way of finding the solution," she noted in her HarperCollins Web site essay. "There is magic for me in creating children's books. I also love the 'aha' moments, when ideas come together and pop."
Proud of being part of the group of writers and artists creating books for young readers, George passed along advice for others who would like to be part of the profession: "Write the story that only you can write, and make the pictures that show your originality of vision. Drawing has always been a way for me to communicate the pleasure of looking, daydreaming, and simply being here. So, to everyone, DRAW ON!"
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 1, 1993, p. 348; October 1, 1992, Deborah Abbott, review of Christmas at Long Pond, p. 335; April 15, 1995, Kay Weisman, review of In the Woods: Who's Been Here?, p. 1501; December 1, 1995, p. 641; September 15, 1996, Lauren Peterson, review of Around the Pond: Who's Been Here?, p. 247; August, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Around the World: Who's Been Here?, p. 2063; January 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of My Bunny and Me, p. 967; May 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Pick, Pull, Snap!: Where Once a Flower Bloomed, p. 1603.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 1987, review of William and Boomer; May, 1995, p. 307.
Horn Book, March, 1999, Elizabeth S. Watson, Around the World: Who's Been Here?, p. 222.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003, review of Pick, Pull, Snap!, p. 612; February 15, 2004, review of Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse, p. 178.
Publishers Weekly, October 11, 1993, review of Secret Places, p. 88; May 1, 1995, review of In the Woods: Who's Been Here?, p. 57; April 5, 2004, review of Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse, p. 60; March 31, 2003, review of Pick, Pull, Snap!, p. 70.
Quill and Quire, July, 1995, Joanne Schott, review of In the Woods: Who's Been Here?, p. 64.
School Library Journal, December, 1991, p. 90; August, 1993, p. 175; April, 1995, pp. 124-25; December, 1995, p. 80; September, 1996, p. 178; April, 2001, Rosalyn Pierini, review of My Bunny and Me, p. 108; April, 2004, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Inside Mouse, Outside Mouse, p. 111.
Harper Collins Web site, http://www.harpercollins.com/ (October 21, 2004), "Lindsay Barrett George."*
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